Japan's economy has been sluggish for many years, and the lack of competitiveness of companies is a big reason, including the decline in the number of patent applications since its peak in 2000. The crux of this situation is that the employees of the enterprise can only get a symbolic reward for their major contributions such as service inventions. After the "Patent Law" is amended, the situation may be even worse.
Japan promulgated the "Patent Law" as early as 1921, stipulating that patent rights belong to individual inventors. Today, nearly a century later, Japan is planning to amend this bill, intending to attribute service inventions to the enterprises to which the inventors belong in principle. This move has aroused great concern and heated debate in Japan.
The reason why this matter is so eye-catching is because of a patent dispute that has attracted great attention in Japan and abroad. Shuji Nakamura, who was originally engaged in scientific research and development at Nichia Chemical Company in Tokushima Prefecture, developed blue LEDs in the early 1990s . According to calculations by the Tokyo District Court, which heard the case, the benefits generated by this invention were as high as 120 billion yen (approximately RMB 6.288 billion), but how much did Tokushima Prefecture Nichia Chemical Company pay Nakamura? Many people almost went into convulsions when they heard this: a mere 20,000 yen (approximately RMB 1048.05), which is not enough money to go to a restaurant for a meal! For this reason, Nakamura went to court with the company in 2001 and demanded to pay 20 billion yen. After repeated persuasion by the court, the two parties finally reached a "settlement" with 840 million yen (about 44.02 million yuan). At the same time, the "Patent Law" also reported that it will be amended, stipulating that the remuneration for service inventors should be determined through negotiation between the enterprise and the inventor.
But Nakamura obviously couldn't stay in Nichia anymore. So he went east to study in anger and went to the United States to do research. He is currently teaching at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2014. This is the highest praise for Nakamura's scientific research achievements, because his invention not only brought huge benefits to the company, but also greatly reduced power consumption through the application of related products. On the occasion of winning the award, Nakamura revealed his feelings: "Anger against the company is the motivation for hard work. If you don't hold back your anger, you won't succeed at all." ", the boss of the company repeatedly humiliated him when they met: "Why don't you resign?" When he made a major invention and had a dispute with the company, no Japanese company was willing to accept him!
Experiences like Nakamura's are by no means isolated in Japan. It stands to reason that after an enterprise's scientific research personnel have made a major invention and transferred the patent right to the enterprise, the enterprise should give a sufficient reward. But in fact, the rewards received by Japanese corporate researchers are very poor. And various enterprises are also plausible about this: without enterprises creating and providing sufficient scientific research conditions, scientific researchers cannot single-handedly achieve breakthroughs in scientific research. Besides, the company provides them with a stable environment of lifetime employment, which relieves them of worries. In addition, inventions are not only the result of individual efforts, but the crystallization of the joint efforts of a team. The main inventor has been rewarded heavily, so what about others? Doesn't this dampen the enthusiasm of most people?
Although Nakamura's company won the lawsuit, the Japanese business community has a strong sense of crisis. They are worried that if the relevant laws and regulations cannot be changed as soon as possible, it will be difficult to ensure that such disputes will not occur frequently in the future, and enterprises will be troubled. As a result, many companies, together with economic groups such as Keidanren, continued to lobby the Japanese government and demanded amendments to the Patent Law. After Abe came to power for the second time, he vigorously promoted the so-called "Abenomics". But for this policy mix to succeed, it will need strong support from the financial community. In order to reciprocate, Abe must of course respond to the demands of enterprises. Therefore, in June 2013, the Japanese government clearly stated in the new basic policy on intellectual property rights that it will "promote fundamental changes in the invention system."
Japan's economy has been sluggish for many years, and the lack of competitiveness of companies is a big reason, including the decline in the number of patent applications since its peak in 2000. The crux of this situation is that even if the employees of the enterprise have made such a major contribution as a service invention, they can only get a symbolic reward, which is not enough to stimulate their enthusiasm for invention and creation. The profits generated by enterprises due to service inventions are often "excess profits", and the remuneration of inventors should occupy a considerable proportion. Because, no matter how you cut the cake, the company will take the lead. The greater the reward, the more significant the effect. The concerns of enterprises are obviously unnecessary. The United States can absorb talents from all over the world because it is steadfast in rewarding those who have made outstanding contributions to innovation. Without innovation and breakthrough, how can enterprises compete? It is really an "international joke" that 20,000 yen is actually available.
Japan's "Patent Law" has been implemented for nearly a century, and no institutional problems have occurred, indicating that there is no need to change it. Looking back at history, the role of this law cannot be underestimated in the reason why Japan was able to catch up from a backward country and quickly become a powerful country. After Nakamura sued Nichia, a senior American patent expert believed that Japan's patent system promoted the innovation of enterprises. Originally, the Nakamura case could have a greater positive effect and encourage corporate researchers to innovate with all their strength. However, the trend of the Japanese financial circles is contrary to this. Their starting point is obviously to "make up for it after the sheep is lost, so as to prevent future troubles" and prevent companies from being troubled by similar cases. .
In the past few years, in order to prevent companies from China and other countries from imitating their products and maintain their leading advantages in products, Japan has made great efforts to protect intellectual property rights and put forward the slogan of "intellectual property rights to build a country". However, when dealing with employee inventions made by employees of domestic enterprises, they only speak for the enterprises and pay more attention to safeguarding the interests of the enterprises.
Although Nakamura's resentment towards the company was difficult to express in words, time has passed and Nakamura still hopes that the two parties can shake hands and make peace. Unexpectedly, Nichia Chemical Industry Company is still angry and resolutely refuses. It seems that the other party is at fault. People of insight in Japan are now particularly worried. Will the revised "Patent Law" hinder and suffocate the invention and innovation of enterprises? If so, what hope does Japan have?
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